The abuse aimed at Margaret Court is far worse than her anti-gay marriage stance.

The vitriol and intolerance around Margaret Court’s comments about Gay Marriage is growing. I don’t mean Court’s comments or intolerance. I mean the abuse and intolerance being thrown at her.

Let me be abundantly clear. I do not agree with Margaret Court’s stance on Gay Marriage. I have written in the past on the need for us to think out of the box on the issue. I proposed then a European model to differentiate ‘legal marriage’ and ‘religious marriage’. Such a differentiation would allow all people to be legally married and allow each religion to choose who they ‘religiously marry’.

In standing by that view, I do not agree with Margaret Court’s view that marriage is between a man and a woman only. Why can’t a man marry a man, or a woman marry a woman?

While I will not defend Court’s view, I will defend her right to express her view. It is such a same that in expressing her view Court becomes the target of abuse and exceptional hypocrisy by those with whom she disagrees.

Many from the left of politics called Alan Jones and Tony Abbott ‘misogynists’ for allowing comments like ‘Ditch the Witch’ to be directed at Gillard. I agree, those comments are vulgar.

Imagine my surprise then, when I read Facebook and social media comments from left-of-politics friends describing Court as ‘pathetic’, ‘old witch’, a ‘stupid woman’ and an ‘old buzzard’.

If the right wing of politics had have described a left wing elderly religious leader this way, the left would screamed ‘misogyny!’ ‘Sexism!’ ‘Ageism!’

But what is good for the goose is not good for the gander from the left of politics.

Many people criticised Court for avoiding Qantas because Qantas supports Gay Marriage. Yet I am sure these same people would support a boycott of the US baker who does not support Gay Marriage (http://aclu-co.org/court-rules-bakery-illegally-discriminated-against-gay-couple/).

From the left of politics one can boycott a baker, but not an airline.

The most breathtaking hypocrisy came from a religious teacher of a well-respected central Victorian Catholic school, who called Margaret Court a ‘narrow-minded, homophobic, religious fundamentalist.’

Excuse me if I am wrong, but doesn’t the Catholic Church teach the same ‘narrow-minded, homophobic, religious’ view that Gay Marriage is wrong?

Could it be that this religious teacher takes money to instruct in his religious classes our children on Catholic views consistent with Court’s, while condemning that teaching in public Facebook posts?

When I called out his hypocrisy and defended Court’s right to express a view (with which I disagree), I was predictably labelled a ‘bully’, ‘thought police’ and best of all ‘a representative of the neo-Christian Taliban’!

Margaret Court’s views are based on a consistent and long-standing religious belief that she holds. Even though I disagree with her views, I respect her ability to hold and justify a point of principle in the face of adversity, even though I disagree with her principle.

Breathtaking hypocrisy like this is growing. It is a deep danger to our democracy when people cannot disagree with civility. Back is December last year a similar controversy arose when Stephanie Ross, a young liberal activist, cited her religious belief as the basis for her opposition to abortion – even in rape.

I disagree with Ross’s view but fought to defend her right to express it, in the face of incredibly personal and abusive vitriol coming, again, from the left. Apparently, according to the left, just because Ross then, like Court now, holds differing views, then her views are invalid, stupid, wrong and should be silenced by bullying.

In December 2016, I defended Ross in terms that can equally be applied to Court. I wrote on the New Daily pages:

“Since when is a deeply held religious belief not a reasonable basis to hold a view that has deep ethical and moral dilemmas? After all, religion has been the home of moral and ethical thinking since humanity first used a rock to crush a seed.

“In the middle of all of this low-quality debate, but high-quality name-calling, we see evidence of ‘echo chambers’ and self-reinforcing silos where political debate has been replaced by people loudly supporting other people with whom they already agree.

“To me, Ross (and now Court) isn’t someone to be condemned. Knowing the storm her opinion would create she should be congratulated for putting her view regardless.”

What does it say about our democracy if I am to be condemned as a ‘bully’, ‘thought police’ and ‘a representative of the neo-Christian Taliban’ all because I defend the right of someone to express a view with which I disagree?

What does it say about where we are heading as a community if we now silence, bully and beat up on views with which we disagree and loose our ability to engage in civil an open dialogue?

I admit that I am a tad hypocritical in this. There have been times when I too have lost my temper on social media and said things I regret. I am human and I am not perfect.

But as a society, we are are moving further from perfect not closer to it. Our intolerance of opposing views is growing to the level that our democracy is at risk. This is why bullying Court is worse than Court’s opposition to Gay Marriage.

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4 Replies to “The abuse aimed at Margaret Court is far worse than her anti-gay marriage stance.”

  1. I think you make a very valid point. We are never going to change someone’s opinion by shouting them down, mocking them and so on. This will only cause someone to dig in further. I think people will generally only consider your argument if they respect you, and this is not garnered by name calling. And after all, isn’t the whole point of arguing with someone to try to change their view? Or at least to give them something to think about?

    Having said all that, I think sometimes the reason for the seemingly vitriolic and abusive comments from the left, and I consider myself left-wing (we’re not all abusive!), is that once Margaret Court’s views are aired on national television programs, and put up for debate, and generally respected, then they are legitimised somewhat, and this is potentially dangerous. It is the view of the left that such harmful opinions should be publicly condemned, to show what we stand for as a society. The longer we keep debating about it, the longer LGBTQ people are denied equality.
    But again, I agree that name calling and insults get us nowhere

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    1. I too from the left. If I can fine tune one thing in your comments it would be this. When you say “they are legitimised somewhat”, I hold the view that all views are legitimate and must be treated as such. They may be old fashioned, out if date or intolerant, but they remain legitimate and must be respected as such… as his is where we in the left go wrong by thinking ‘ours’ is the moral and just view and ‘theirs’ is the wrong view.

      That is how trump won, by making people listened to, whereas Clinton called swing voters ‘deplorable’…

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  2. And even with the disaster of Trump’s victory, we (as a society) have not learnt that this is the time to reflect on why the left lost. Any opinion that does not fit in with the majority or popular view tends to be labeled, the person with the opposing view attached personally rather than on the basis of their argument.

    The Project had a very good opportunity for dialogue with Margaret Court yet the way they behaved drove her views to be even more cemented in her. When a person is attacked, the natural reaction is to go on the defense regardless of whether they acknowledge they are right or wrong.

    You cannot even begin to persuade someone to reconsider their views if you don’t give them a chance to speak, to create a dialogue and to even understand your side of the argument. It is nobody’s fault that certain views have been ingrained in them through either their education, family upbringing or surrounding environment but it is our fault if we deny them of a voice for dialogue.

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    1. I agree entirely. It is why I wrote back in May that Trump would win if the left were not careful. They didn’t listen, they did yell and they did loose.

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